Hous­ton weighs in on Boat Har­bour cleanup

PC leader feels a fed­eral as­sess­ment would de­lay the process

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY - BY ADAM MACIN­NIS

Tim Hous­ton says he’s glad the Cana­dian En­vi­ron­men­tal As­sess­ment Agency is look­ing for pub­lic in­put on whether a fed­eral en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment is re­quired for the pro­posed Boat Har­bour Re­me­di­a­tion Pro­ject.

How­ever, the PC leader and MLA for Pic­tou East ques­tions why the same level of scru­tiny hasn’t been given to the plans to build a new treat­ment fa­cil­ity on Aber­crom­bie Point.

The fed­eral agency is now in the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion por­tion of that process and is seek­ing com­ments from the pub­lic and Indige­nous groups on the pro­ject and its po­ten­tial ef­fects on the en­vi­ron­ment, as de­scribed in the sum­mary of the pro­ject de­scrip­tion.

Peo­ple have un­til Jan. 27 to sub­mit a com­ment. If the agency de­ter­mines a fed­eral as­sess­ment is re­quired, it could be a fairly lengthy process.

Ac­cord­ing to the agency, a fed­eral en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment must be com­pleted within a year. But time taken by the pro­po­nent (in this case Nova Sco­tia Lands) to com­plete its work or pro­vide in­for­ma­tion is not in­cluded within the 365-day time­line.

The pro­ject will also un­dergo a Class 2 en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment at the pro­vin­cial level. Class 2 un­der­tak­ings are typ­i­cally larger in scale and are con­sid­ered to have the po­ten­tial to cause sig­nif­i­cant en- vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts and con­cern to the pub­lic. These un­der­tak­ings re­quire an en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment re­port and for­mal pub­lic re­view which may in­clude hear­ings.

In April 2018, En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Iain Rankin said his de­part­ment de­ter­mined a Class 2 process is nec­es­sary for the cleanup pro­ject be­cause of its size and mul­ti­ple con­tam­i­nants in the soil and water.

Boat Har­bour Re­me­di­a­tion pro­ject lead Ken Swain has said if a fed­eral as­sess­ment is re­quired, it could de­lay the start of the cleanup.

Hous­ton be­lieves if the pub­lic wants a fed­eral as­sess­ment though, it would be worth the wait.

“There could be a de­lay in the cleanup if the feds get in­volved, but I think that peo­ple just want to know it’s go­ing to get done right.”

He wishes the same scru­tiny would be ap­plied for the new treat­ment fa­cil­ity.

“The new treat­ment fa­cil­ity def­i­nitely re­quires a higher level of scru­tiny than a Class 1,” he said.

In the past, he has called for a Class 2 pro­vin­cial as­sess­ment.

Hous­ton says he also has no in­for­ma­tion now that would make him be­lieve North­ern Pulp should be granted an ex­ten­sion on their use of the Boat Har­bour Treat­ment Fa­cil­ity which is sched­uled to close by Jan. 31, 2020.

“It’s been al­most four years

since the bill was passed and North­ern Pulp hasn’t filed an ap­pli­ca­tion yet,” he said. “There’s no new in­for­ma­tion to base an ex­ten­sion on.”

When the leg­is­la­tion to close Boat Har­bour was first in­tro­duced, Hous­ton said he had sub­mit­ted an amend­ment propos­ing a time­line for cer­tain steps in the process to be met, but it was re­jected. He be­lieves if the gov­ern­ment had in­cluded it, the sit­u­a­tion wouldn’t be where it’s at to­day.

“How much time has passed with so lit­tle move­ment? It’s not good.”


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